This online learning resource went live a little more than a year ago. What started as a small idea to help rural agricultural businesses become more viable through social media, has expanded beyond what we could have ever anticipated.
In just over 12 months, our original content pertaining to social media marketing in rural America has reached thousands of agricultural marketers across the nation. Our research has been presented at regional, national, and international research conferences and furthered the theoretical concepts found within social media marketing in the agricultural community.
We’ve taken what we have learned through research and practical, hands-on experience and hosted a multitude of industry webinars geared toward equipping rural marketers to find success. Our content has also reached local and statewide organizations through hands-on workshops directed specifically to teaching social media strategies that work on the rural level, and it seems to be resonating.
The Center has also provided workshops that have ranged from small, rural garden centers to multi-million dollar produce firms that sell all over the world. Our goal with each one of these meetings was to help agricultural businesses identify what their next steps were on social media.
We have always embraced the “and then” philosophy of looking at what comes next. The idea is simple, don’t focus on the here and now and don’t settle for single, individual transactions. By asking yourself, “and then,” you equip your business to succeed into the future. As an organization, we’ve always asked “and then” when it comes to our digital strategy; this is also true in terms of our overall organizational development.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my year working as the managing director for The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement. Highlights have included conducting and presenting research, writing blog content, producing videos, and my favorite part has always been meeting with individual business owners and helping them make sense of the social media landscape. But just like social media strategy, life also has “and thens.” The answer to my family’s “and then” will take us on our next adventure to Topeka and to another wonderful organization.
When I realized I would be transitioning into another position outside of The Center, my immediate question was “and then.” We’ve experienced incredible growth and success over this year, and our leadership knew that in order for us to continue our success we needed to have an answer to my “and then.”
We knew we wanted to wait for the right person to come along. We searched. We interviewed. And then, Courtney came across our path.
Courtney Boman will be serving as the interim managing director for The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement and the editor for ruralengagement.org. She brings a wealth of social media and agency experience that will not only drive The Center forward, but also positively influence all stakeholders. I recently sat down with Courtney for an interview to help introduce our readers to the professional who will be overseeing the “and then” from this point forward.
Scott: Courtney, can you tell me about your background and work experience before coming to The Center?
Courtney: I graduated in 2012 from Kansas State University with a bachelor of arts in public relations with a minor in leadership studies. After completing my undergraduate degree, I started my career in Manhattan working with businesses, on local, regional and national platforms to build successful marketing campaigns and host special events.
I love helping organizations and people utilize digital media, such as websites and social media, to communicate and succeed at their business goals. I enjoy listening to the needs of clients and translating those needs into actionable items that can be successful in reaching goals.
I began working on my graduate degree in 2014, and earlier this year decided to return to K-State full-time to complete my degree and concentrate on research opportunities.
Scott: How about your social media experience?
Courtney: Previous positions that I’ve held have focused on social media as a key marketing element. I have overseen social media campaigns, along with daily account management that utilized Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Scott: Although social media marketing is a very hot topic over the last few years, some people tend to gravitate toward it a little more than others. So, why social media?
Courtney: I have always been passionate and intrigued by social media. I view social media as a way to build meaningful relationships with consumers and other businesses. Social media helps companies better understand what people crave and care about, which is constantly evolving into new opportunities. For someone studying or managing social media accounts, it’s a never ending opportunity to keep growing and learning.
Scott: Why is it important for rural businesses to use social media?
Courtney: Companies need to be present where conversations are taking place. Over 70% of online adults are using social networking sites for work and personal use. Rural businesses can build and nurture relationships that may not occur through traditional media or consumers coming into a brick and mortar location on social media. The ability to tell stories and create compelling content that viewers can engage with not just in the location of the business, but across the country or world, is important to drive results.
Scott: We’ve talked about grad school and a little bit about your specific areas of research that you will be reporting on in the fall. Can you tell me about your research?
Courtney: I’m working with Dr. Jason Ellis on my thesis, which focuses on the effects crisis communication strategies via Twitter have on brand reputation. The main goal of this design experiment is to test how crisis type and response strategies influence brand reputation when using Twitter based on Dr. Timothy Coombs’ Situational Crisis Communications Theory.
Scott: Why are you excited about The Center?
Courtney: The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement is such a unique organization since it’s a hybrid of being a research center and an agency. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in the latest new-media research that’s not only being published in academic outlets, but also being shared with rural businesses. I’m very excited for the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Boyer, Dr. Baker and Dr. Peterson, along with fellow graduate and undergraduate students on relevant research in the new-media field.